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Techniques for linking ideas

The ideas within an essay are systematically linked within paragraphs, paragraph clusters, and the overall text to create a hierarchy
of ideas connected to the topic. Linking of ideas throughout the text enhances coherence.

Techniques for linking ideas within the hierarchical structure of an essay are described in this handout. These include: using idea
statements, discourse markers and other cohesive devices.

Using idea statements to link ideas

To achieve coherence, ideas need to be linked at different levels across an essay. Two levels at which ideas must be linked are
described here:

1. The overall framework level:
The focus statement (either contained within the introduction or a section that follows the introduction) clarifies the purpose of the
essay, outlines its scope, and sets out the main segments of the text. This part of the essay generally contains idea statements that
link the overall structure of the essay. Idea statements at this level identify the paragraph clusters (i.e. main ideas) that will follow,
and state how they are connected to the purpose of the essay. In this way, idea statements link or unify the overall text.

2. The paragraph cluster level:
A paragraph cluster refers to a number of paragraphs that deal with a single complex idea. Generally, the focus statement identifies
the main ideas of the essay that will form the paragraph clusters. Ideas contained within a paragraph cluster are linked by using key
idea statements. Similar to the idea statements within the focus statement, key idea statements outline the paragraph clusters main
idea, the scope of the discussion in the paragraph cluster and identifies its sub-ideas. The sub-ideas are explained in separate
paragraphs that form the paragraph cluster. Each paragraph begins by introducing its topic and then developing and explaining it.
So, key idea statements operate at a level of paragraph clusters to link the sub-points that develop and explain the main ideas of the
essay.
Using discourse markers and cohesive devices to link idea across and within paragraphs

There are several ways of linking ideas across and within paragraphs. These include the use of discourse markers, transitional
words and cohesive devices.

1. Linking ideas across paragraphs:
This is achieved through the use of discourse markers. To link previously stated ideas with new ideas, the writer generally uses
discourse markers and paraphrased restatement of the previous paragraphs content. Discourse markers are words that signal
different types of relationship, for example concession, addition, and summation. They are used to connect the old ideas with the
new ones. They also point the reader to different types of relationships in the ideas being presented. Discourse markers are useful
because they help prepare the reader for what will follow in the text and therefore facilitates understanding. The table below lists
some types of relationship and related discourse markers.

Types of discourse markers

Type of relationship Discourse markers
affirmation in deed, actually, in fact, certainly
negation on the contrary, on the other hand, despite, still, however, but,
conversely, although
concession although, though, granted that, no doubt, to be sure, of course,
whereas
contrast in contrast, although, and yet, but, on the contrary
cause and effect accordingly, as a result, hence, consequently, otherwise, therefore,
thus, unless
addition moreover, besides, and, to add, also, furthermore, further, in
addition, next, again, too, second (third, etc.), another, finally, last


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science Web: www.chs.ecu.edu.au
qualification frequently, often, sometimes, occasionally, provided, in case,
unless, when, since, because, for, if
summation thus, therefore, in conclusion, to sum up, so, consequently, all in
all, in short, on the whole, in brief, in summary, overall
sequence after, then, since, before, when, whenever, until, as soon as, as long
as, in (1999), at (the beginning), afterwards, as long as, at the same
time, earlier, of late, immediately, in the meantime, meanwhile,
lately, later, shortly, since, soon, temporarily, thereafter, until,
while
illustration for example, for instance, to illustrate, in particular, in this case, in
particular, specifically

(Adapted from Puhl & Day, 1992).

2. Linking ideas within paragraphs:
Paragraphs consist of several sentences that all link to a key idea. The relationships among ideas within and between paragraphs
are established by using transitional words and phrases, and cohesive devices (e.g. reference, substitution and ellipsis).

Transitional words and phrases are used to show logical, temporal and spatial links.
Reference involves the use of many types of pronouns.
Substitution refers to the replacement of one word or phrase with another
Ellipsis refers to the omission of a repeated word or phrase
Lexical reiteration refers to the repetition of words and phrases
Lexical collocation refers to co-occurrences of words which regularly co-occur in the language.

Types of cohesive devices to link ideas within paragraphs

Type of cohesive device Example
Transitions
logical, temporal and spatial
links
These events preceded the policy change. (temporal link)
As discussed above (spatial link)
Reference
types of pronouns
All the interviewers had been previously trained in interviewing
techniques. They demonstrated their competence
Substitution
replacement of one word or
phrase for another
The males and females displayed similar behaviours. Both groups
reacted positively towards
Ellipsis
omission of a repeated word
There are two key reasons for the change. The first is.
Lexical reiteration
repetition of words and phrases
Smiths (2000) three arguments remain unsubstantiated. His first
argument .The second argument..His final argument.
Lexical collocation
co-occurrence of words which
regularly co-occur in the
language
Although each item cost just 25 cents to manufacture, they were
sold for two dollars each.

(Adapted from Puhl & Day, 1992).

As shown in this handout, the use of idea statements, discourse markers and cohesive devices provide a range to techniques to link
ideas across the hierarchical levels of an essay.





Source: Puhl, L & Day, B. (1992). Writing at university: a guide to writing academic essays and reports at Edith Cowan
University. Perth: Edith Cowan University.


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science Web: www.chs.ecu.edu.au




K.Singh, ECU, Faculty of Computing, Health and Science, J anuary 2005